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54 Cards in this Set

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  • Back

What was the three age system and who created it? What did it entail?

The three age system was created by Christian Jurgensen Thomsen, a Danish archaeologist

1.) Stone Age (Paelolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic)

2.) Bronze Age (3300 BC-600 BC)

3.) Iron Age (600 BC- 700 AD)

Problems were that it was simplistic and eurocentric

-Greek, Roman, Assyrian, Sumerian, Egyptian, cultures drove most of the study in the old world

-In America, Mayan and American south-west were influential (as way almost any Native American site)

define diffusion

borrowing between cultures either directly or through intermediaries

define linear cultural evolution

"simple" societies evolved into more complex ones

what can count as archaeological evidence?

almost anything really! Architecture, human remains, plant remains, animal remains, and human-made objects

what is an archaeological site?

a place or location where activity took place, it is a convention used to record and document this activity- these can be very large or very small (depends)

often classified by activity:

burial site

habitation site

production site

what is an artifact?

Objects found in/on archaeological sites

Exhibit features that are caused by human action

Artifacts are often classified by type and function

Classes of artifacts are determined by the attributes of the object

Artifacts can be something obvious like a gold earring, a decoratedpot or are knife

what is a feature?

Features are structures – hearths, houses, walls, storage pits, etc

define stratigraphy

science that examines the ways in which earth sediments are deposited in demarcated layers known as strata

what is archaeological context

Critical component to making meaning of past events – records events inspace and time

An archaeological site may have just a few artifacts or thousands….but it’snot the amount of “stuff” that matters, it’s how those objects relate to eachother

define provenience

a detailed record of context

What are the two types of site formation processes?

cultural and non-cultural (which is sometimes called natural)

define zoonotic

diseases that spread from animals to humans

how does anthony wallace define religion?

belief and ritual concerned with supernatural beings, powers and forces.

what did Emile Durkheim mean by profane?

the world of the mundane, the ordinary

what did Emile Durkheim mean by sacred?

the extraordinary, transcendent, dissolution of the “self”

what did Emile Durkheim say about religion?

Religion is about the distinction between the sacred and the profane, also said every society has structured the sacred and profane in different ways

what are some common features of religious practice?

Group-focused (for the most part)

Ritual recital of foundational documents – internalizes beliefs and helpsform a shared system of meaning

The distinctions between profane and sacred are often emphasized

Emotional intensity

define communitas

a very deep sense of belonging, community spirit(solidarity, togetherness)

why is "religious effervescence" quite common?

because of communitas

Does the empirical “proof” of a religion’s teachings matter toanthropologists?


why do anthropologists care about religion

It is a powerful social phenomenon; one of the most profound for many

Religious practice is often not isolated from other aspects of dailyexistence

Religion intersects with multiple features of identity

Religions are often a basis for a culture’s ethics, morality, and what isconsidered acceptable behavior (sometimes even law)

If we’re interested in human behavior, we need to be interested inreligion

Religion can unite us is powerful ways and also become a force oftremendous division and destruction

What did Sir Edward Taylor about religion and it's evolution?

Religion evolved to help us cope with events we could not comprehendwith reference to daily experience – it helps us explain the world aroundus

Death, the seasons, natural disasters

define animism

Animism is the belief that physical objects and living beings havesouls that persist in death – there is no strict division between thespiritual and physical worlds

This idea is an anthropological creation and not self-ascribed

Animism can be seen in religious beliefs that pre-date the largerorganized religions

why was animism developed?

Animism evolved to “deal” with these profound issues

define mana

prominent in melanesian and polynesian cultures, a sacred impersonal force existing in the universe. Mana could reside in people, animals, plants, and objects.

mana in melanesia

Melanesia: it is analogous to luck or good fortune – contact withobjects having good mana are beneficial

mana in polynesia

Polynesia: mana can mean something more powerful andconcentrated with those who have political and economic power –it can be dangerous (but also healing and positive)

in some cultures what can be manipulated?

spiritual beings are believed to be able to be controlled and manipulated

where does magic enter the picture?

Some religions emphasize the manipulation of supernatural forces, this is where magic comes in

define magic

Magic is the use of ritual to control supernatural forces for a specificaim

what are the different types of magic

Imitative – mimicking the desired result (e.g Voodoo)

Contagious – imbuing objects with supernatural power (e.g. curses)

Magic is not limited to beliefs in animism and mana only; it is present inpolytheistic and monotheistic religions too

what is the purpose of religion?

To explain the natural world

But many don’t come to religion for this with advancements inscience

Religion serves deep emotional and psychological needs

It provides meaning in death and mechanisms to cope withemotional pain

Provides a sense of community during a period of emotionalloneliness and despair

Source of friendship and shared experience


Formalized religious practices involving stylized, repetitive, andstereotyped actions

Places are usually sacred (in the Durkheim way) and performed atspecific times for specific purposes

These are deeply social acts – the repetition and “sameness” of themis important

rites of passage

Types of rituals that help people move from liminalstates to being fully incorporated into the group

These can be individual or collective Age-related change over the life course is animportant component

Birth, childhood, adolescence (puberty),adulthood, old age

Rites of passage have stages: separation, liminality,incorporation


Existing apart; out of time and place; not part of themain group

Often assigned during a period a transition

Liminality might be marked with new behaviors,taboos, clothing, and so on

what are the types of religious practices?

rituals, rites of passage, liminality

religion and social control

We’ve seen how religion can be mobilized for tremendous good

But the deep internalization and the profound emotional andpsychological component to religion leaves room for exploitation

Many argue most of these have very clear political andeconomic roots

The dark side of religion is that it can lead to fear, hatred andcontempt for “others” who do not believe what you do

Witch hunts of the 15-17th centuries are a prime example

These atrocities targeted marginalized people (women, thepoor, foreigners)

Control is often established by those with power within religionsthrough systems of reward and punishment

just like culture, religion can what?

can change over time, religions can also hybridize when they come intocontact

cargo cults are what?

are a type of revitalization movement –common during periods of unrest and foreign control

secular rituals

The wide variety of secular rituals and rites of passage raises a seriesof problems for the meaning of religion

Problem 1: If religion is defined by reference to thesacred/supernatural, how do we describe secular ritualbehavior? (Many of the practices are similar)

Problem 2: If a culture doesn’t have a clear and consistentdistinction between the sacred and profane, what counts asreligion and what doesn’t?

Problem 3: What counts as appropriate religious behavior variestremendously from culture to culture (as well as within!). Whichculture is then more religious?

Intense, religious-like rituals and practices are part ofsecular life. The emotional and psychological fulfillment isalso similar

Sport and music are great examples of this

The secular then become sacred (at least for some)

Comparative religion has shown that nearlyeverything can fall under the sacred or the profane –there are no “natural laws” of sacredness

define religious effervescence

the bubbling up of collective emotional intensity generated by worship

myths about families

#1 - Nuclear families are the “norm” in Americansociety

<25% of families follow this pattern

#2 - Nuclear families are the “norm” cross-culturally

Cross-culture comparisons show that family is sociallyconstructed and may not align with biological ties

This is contrary to American culture – where kinship isstrongly tied to biology

so what is family?

A group sharing some relation to each other

Often by blood, but can be through marriage or othersocial means


In the US, family is defined often with connections to thehusband’s and wife’s relatives

In Brazil, your family are your blood relatives and yourchildren (who are shared) and not your spouse’srelatives

types of families

Nuclear families

One type of kinship group

It is impermanent…why?

When the kids leave home, the nuclear familydissolves

The family of orientation and the family ofprocreation

Most people then experience two nuclear families intheir lives (divorces can add more occasions)

Descent groups

This is a permanent social unit

A group of people who claim common ancestry

Members change, but the group remains

It is typically an ascribed status, given at birth

Some groups by patrilineal descent, others bymatrilineal descent (far less common, about 3 to 1)

Both types of descent are unilineal, which means thatdescent is determined via one line only (mother’s orfather’s)

what are the types of families?

nuclear and descent groups

clans v. lineage

Both share a belief in an apical ancestor

Lineages use demonstrated descent

“Proof” of descent based on biological connections

Clans make use of stipulated descent

It’s enough to declare kinship – explicit proof isn’trequired (even if it can be demonstrated)

You can have lineages and clans at once

Lineage back 5-10 generations

Clan based on a stipulated descent from an ancestor

The ancestor doesn’t even need to be human

Common in totemic religions

define apical ancestor

the person who stands at the apex, or the top, of the common genealogy.

alternatives to nuclear families

Nayars of southern India

Matrilineal system

Family members live in large compounds called tarawads (almost amini-village to itself)

Headed by a senior woman (and her brother)

Families are quite large, with grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins,nephews, etc. – extended families (multiple generations)

Marriage in this culture is unusual (to us!)

The bride may stay with the groom for a few days, but she returns to hertaraward (as would the groom)

A woman is free to have multiple sexual partners, even while married

Children remain in her tarawad and are not consider kin to the father ifhe is from another tarawad

Think back to how this connects to our sex and gender lecture!

industry, family, and mobility

How does industrialism affect mobility and the family unit?

We move for jobs

This as redefined our concept of family to become smaller – thenuclear family

Historically this wasn’t always the case

This is called neolocality – where newly married couples areexpected to create a new home and family unit

This phenomenon is more common in middle and upper classhouseholds.

Expanded (non-nuclear relatives) and extended families are morecommon in poorer households. Why?

Adaptation to poverty (pooling of resources)

changes in the American family over time?

More American women live without husbands thanwith one

“To be sure, contemporary Americans maintainsocial lives through work, friendship, sports, clubs,religion and organized social activities. However,the growing isolation from kin that these figuressuggest may well be unprecedented in humanhistory.” (pg 304)

what is marriage?

Is it the union of a man and a woman for the purposeof creating children?

Sometimes, but this is by no means universal

So why isn’t this universal?

There are plural marriages

There are common-law unions

There are same-sex marriages

The reasons “for” marriage differ by culture

plural marriages

Quite common in non-industrialized societies

Polygamy is another general term for it

Polygyny involves a man with multiple wives

Polyandry involves a woman with multiple husbands(far less common)

same-sex marriages

Not always about sexuality and attraction

For example, the Nuer of Sudan

Without male heirs, a father could ask a daughter to marryanother woman and effectively act as a son

His daughter would be considered a “husband”

The wife could have sex with men until she fathered a child

The “husband” (who is a woman) is considered the father

In this case, paternity is social and not biological

endogamy, exogamy, and incest


Marriage and unions within a defined cultural group orethnicity


Marriage between groups or ethnicities


Sexual contact or intercourse with a family relative

Socially constructed as well…why?

Kinship is socially constructed

Sex is “contested”